future view

Printed-droplet drying improves controlled drug delivery

19 June 2017 • 1 min reading time

A more controlled release of drugs’ active substances to prevent overdosing and underdosing. TNO’s printed-droplet drying technology makes it possible. A study will commence in mid-2017, in which experts will test existing formulations. Any companies that want to find out whether this technology is applicable to their own products have until 1 September to join the consortium.

Compared to conventional spray drying, printed-droplet drying is a real innovation. In a very controlled process, the print head at the top of the drying tower ejects uniform droplets, which dry as they fall. The resultant particles have uniform properties in terms of size, sphericity, and density.

“Pharmacists want to avoid dosage peaks. Now, using our new technology, they can”

Controlled release

“Pharmaceutical companies are always on the lookout for better ways to achieve controlled release”, says Robert Nijhuis, a business developer at TNO. “When fabricating particles, pharmacists find it difficult to obtain a uniform distribution of active pharmaceutical ingredients (also known as APIs) throughout the particles. For example, when patients take the medicine, the dose released into their body may initially be very large and subsequently a lot lower. Pharmacists naturally want to avoid dosage peaks like that. Now, using our new technology, they can. While conventional production techniques deliver particles of different sizes, we use printed-droplet drying to generate monodisperse particles (i.e. particles that all have virtually the same diameter).

Make sure the droplets don’t collide

Mr Nijhuis explains that “The nozzle in the print section ejects liquid formulation as a series of droplets. Next, the hot air in the drying section removes the solvent by evaporation. The main challenge is to prevent the droplets from colliding with one another, and sticking together. If they do, you end up with bigger particles that release a different dose. The better we control the interaction, the better the particle size. We are planning a study for the pharmaceutical industry, to see whether this application could be used for their existing medications.”

“We are planning a study for the pharmaceutical industry, to see whether this application could be used for their existing medications”

Interested in taking part?

The study will begin in mid-2017, and will take one year to eighteen months. It will take place in the framework of the Public-Private Partnership (PPS) Research and Innovation “Toeslag” project (formerly a Top Consortium for Knowledge and Innovation (TKI) scheme). Robert Nijhuis points out that “the moment we complete our tests, the pharmacists involved will know whether this technology is suitable for their own particular product. I would like to invite any companies that are curious about this technology and that are interested in joining the consortium to get in touch with us.”

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